Egg Size Is a Developmentally Plastic Trait: Evidence from Long Term Studies in the Frog Bombina orientalis

  • Kaplan Robert H.;King E
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This study documents and compares patterns of temporal variation in egg size in three populations of the fire-bellied toad (Bombina orientalis) from the Republic of Korea. Data were taken from an eight-year field study and a concomitant four-year laboratory study of repeated breedings of wild caught females. We provide evidence that egg size is a plastic trait in this species by describing the extent and changes of variation in two traits: mean egg size per clutch and intraclutch egg size variation. We show that in the field there was substantial variation among populations, among individuals within populations, and among eggs within the clutches of single individuals. In addition, there were significant differences among years as well as significant population by year interactions. Yearly shifts in egg size were positively associated with environmentally induced shifts in body mass. Similarly, the amount of variation in egg size within a clutch shifted among years. These field results imply that substantial amounts of variation in egg size among individuals may not be directly genetic. The laboratory studies further support this view. There were significant differences in the degree of plasticity exhibited by individual females in each of the three populations as measured by the coefficients of variation of mean egg size and intraclutch egg size variation among females based on repeated breedings of individuals. In addition, repeatability values for individual populations ranged from 0.14-0.27 for mean egg size but were not significantly different from zero for the variation in intraclutch egg size variation. Our field and laboratory results demonstrate that egg size variation is highly subject to non-genetic sources of variation. We discuss the implications of these observations for an understanding of the importance of plasticity and maternal effects on the evolution of reproductive traits in amphibians

Author-supplied keywords

  • Developmental plasticity;Maternal effects;Korea;Eg

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  • Elizabeth G Kaplan Robert H.;King

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